Search Engine Optimizing (SEO) your WordPress is relatively straightforward by using a number of basics. In this article we’ll discuss how to measure your SEO rank and how to improve it. By the end you’ll know how to SEO WordPress, both new and existing websites.
Track your score
Optimization is no use if you don’t track what it does. To get started:
- Install Google Analytics
- Install Google Webmaster Tools (you can use the tool we discuss in the next paragraph)
- Check your rank with Moz OSE
Once you have those set up, you have some data to start with.
How to SEO WordPress with plugins
Be sure to install the following plugins:
SEO by Yoast is an SEO suite with both basic and advanced capabilities. It will help you optimize the whole website as well as individual pages.
The schema creator adds structured code to your website to Google can index it better.
Global website optimization
Yoast game you a little “SEO” button in the left bar in the admin screen. Hover it and select general. Spend some time doing the following:
- Under ‘Company Info’ add your details. This is for Google’s Knowledge graph (those cards you sometimes see ins search results)
- Use the Webmaster Tools tab to link this website to the dashboards you use. Google is fine to begin with.
Titles & meta
This section is used to set the global settings for your title (what you see in the tab title of your browser) and meta (description in search results). If you have set this up outside the plugin, good. If not, pay attention to::
- Set your homepage title to include your favorite keyword (no keyword stuffing please)
- Post types settings are used to pre-format the titles and meta’s of posts. I set them manually for every post so ignore this
- Same for taxonomies & archive
- Leave the ‘other’ tab alone
Setting profiles under this tab tells search engines what pages are associated with this website. This can be useful for the Google knowledge Graph we set in the previous section.
These are important! They are also easy to configure. Initially, just run through the post and taxonomy tabs. Exclude any custom post types you don’twant Google to pay attention to.
Next, make sure you spread this sitemap:
- Under ‘General’ click the Sitemap button
- Copy this link
- In Webmaster Tools go to the sitemap heading, and add this sitemap to your website
Post specific SEO
When you make a new post after the installation of Yoast, you will discover that under the post edit screen there is a new block. It will ask you for:
- A focus keyword
- An SEO title
- A meta description
The beauty of this plugin is that it not only allows you to add SEO info, it tells you how well you are doing. In this new block you will see a number of items under the ‘focus keyword’ field. Basically the plugin is telling you how to SEO WordPress.
Your workflow here is:
- Add focus keyword (what do you want to be found on)
- Write post
- Make sure the checklist is complete
- To go even further, check the ‘page analysis’ tab
On the top right you will see an SEO button, with a traffic light sign next to it. This should always be green. T get details, click the ‘check’ link after the button. Be sure to press ‘save draft’ before looking at this, some things it only checks after you do that.
After the basics: Speed
After the data structure that you just changed, speed is very important for SEO. Slow websites are not liked by search engines. Lucky for you we have a speed optimization checklist.
Take your time going through the speed checklist, and be sure to make backups in between.
Search engines base part of your reputation on how many websites link to you. Not only that, what matters is the reputation of the websites that link to you. To get backlinks, keep in mind the following:
- Low quality websites do not help you
- High ranking pages help you more
- Relevant pages help you more
If you have a website on tomatoes, a backlink from a high ranking potato website is good. What is far better is a backlink from a high ranking tomato soup website. Backlinks from 100 low quality websites on cucumbers, onions and apples will not help. Spammy links even harm your reputation.
There are a number of best practices to get your position optimal in search engines:
- Write posts for people, not engines. If humans like your writing, Google’s algorithms will notice
- Long posts with structure win. 1000+ word posts perform well, and headings help too
- Mobile websites are a must. Google downgrades websites not available for mobile devices